Willamette river float from Hyak park to Albany for small mouth bass and agates

Some days during late summer nothing sounds as good as a float down a lazy river on a weekend. And of course fishing makes it better. The wife and I found a nice section close to home that looked promising on the map. Hyak park is along Highway 20 between Corvallis and Albany. Floating from Hyak towards Albany has three possible pull out locations. Bryant park and Takena park are both on opposite sides of the river at the northwest side of Albany. But since that was the shorter of the trips we picked the longer spot of Bowman park.

For the first mile it was flat and surprisingly not as deep as I expected. For most of this section I could see the bottom and none of it was over 10 feet deep according to my fish finder. Which made for some poor fishing since there was no structure in the area for any fish. I did have a bite at the ramp but it appeared to be a fairly small fish. Moving down stream there was a nice rock structure towards the middle of the river. As I floated past one side I finally caught my first fish using a swim bait.

By far not my largest smallmouth but it was a good fight and just the one fish was worth the float. Now for my wife this was not a fishing trip but more of an agate finding trip. She cruised the shallows and filled up her kayak with rocks for me to tumble. Most gravel bars along the upper Willamette (and maybe lower) are great places to find agates. My largest find so far over the years was a blood agate up towards Harrisburg that was nearly the size of my fist. From Albany upstream I have mostly found shades of red towards clear along the gravel bars. But from where the Calapooia river meets the Willamette there is a chance to find an agate called a holly blue agate.

For the rest of the trip until we made it to Albany the fishing was slow, but once we made it to the hwy 20 bridge down to Bowman boat launch the river deepened up and the bass were more active. The final count for the float was four small mouth all from 10″ to 14″ There are by far bigger in the river but since it was a float and not really a dedicated fishing trip I didn’t stop to fish as much as I could have. There were several spots by the bridges that I saw some very large carp swiming around. Soon I am going to go back out and attempt to catch one from teh kayak. I imagine it is like catching a salmon from a kayak and it will pull it around a bit. Should be some fun to do before summer ends.

Highway 20 bridge coming into Albany

I do need to try some other floats along the river. From Harrisburg down is a good location for trout and over the years I have caught some very large river rainbows from the bank in that area.

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Fall fishing Lookout Point Reservoir

When I was a youngster, many years ago. Lookout point reservoir was known only as a place to fish for trash fish. It wasn’t stocked with anything and the northern pikeminnows had pretty much out competed every other fish. You would catch an occasional trout, but for the most part suckers and pikeminnows were all. And then came the illegal stocking of warm water species into this reservoir. It is now one of those lakes that if it lives anywhere in Oregon then you can probably catch it if you learn the lake and where to target them.

For our fall trip down to the lake, we are trying to catch for us the elusive Walleye. Several years ago ODFW did a study in the lake to the percentage of predator species, and how they are distributed in the lake. I was able to get ahold of one of the biologists that were a part of the study and when they did the trapping for them they found several Walleye over 24″ in length. This was nearly a decade ago study so she believed that some of them could be pushing up to 30″ now. Neither Jeremy or I have ever caught a walleye so this would be a great catch to add to our bucket list of fish. Walleye are limited in Oregon to the Columbia river, small stretches of the Willamette river and now Lookout point.

One thing I have noticed in the last five years is the reduction in pikeminnow in the lake. Years ago when we trolled we would catch 5 pikeminnow to 1 of any other species. Now I rarely catch any at all.

Finding a place to walk down to the water is always a challenge since the lake is so steep. But we were able to find a place we could walk down and fish along the edge. A storm was coming in so our fishing time was limited before the heavy rain and wind hit. Third cast once we made it to the water my shad rap was hammered by a very nice sized Small mouth bass. Before this fish I actually didn’t know there was small mouth in the lake and thought the bass were limited to the large mouth variety.

First nice smallmouth bass I have caught this year

As with most reservoirs in the area there is also tons of stumps everywhere. After a near loss of the crankbait I swapped over to a finesse jig to try nearer the stumps. I will say now that I am not a bass fisherman. Or really much of a fisherman for anything other then trout and salmon. But I am trying got change that. Last month I signed up to start getting a monthly bag of bass gear from 6th sense. Using the finesse jig this was my first attempt at using anything other then a worm and bobber for bass. Jigging is a skill I need to work on, but I was able to somehow catch another bass near a stump using the jig. If you watch my video you can tell I am a bit excited about catching my first bass on a finesse jig

My first bass ever caught on a finesse jig from 6th sense.

With the short amount of time we had before the weather turned and we had to pack it up we caught three nice smallmouth bass and lost a couple of others. And of course lost several lures to the stumps. No Walleye on this trip but that just means we will need to go back and try again at some point. As windy as this lake gets it is hard to fish from our preferred choice of a kayak. But we will someday catch one even if it is tiny.

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